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Posts Tagged ‘mistaken identity’

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Nancy (Lake Bell) is 34, single and fed up of trying to find Mr Right. On a train to her parents’ 40 wedding anniversary party she meets with another passenger Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond) who leaves the book she is reading – a self-help book called 6 Million People and You – for  Nancy, because she thinks Nancy should read it. However, it turns out that Jessica was going on a blind date, and both she and her date were going to hold a copy of the book so that they could recognise each other. Jessica buys another book but meanwhile her date Jack (Simon Pegg) sees Nancy with the book and assumes that she is the girl he is meant to be meeting.

Rather than put him straight, Nancy goes on the date and the two of them get along brilliantly. But of course, the truth must out and that’s when things take a turn. A run-in with a creepy former schoolfriend of Nancy (Rory Kinnear) and Jack’s ex-wife and new partner (Olivia Williams and Stephen Campbell Moore) complicate matters even further…

I really enjoyed this film. I think it’s fairly obvious from the beginning how it’s going to turn out in the end, and anyone who has seen a rom-com before will know what to expect. But getting there is good fun – and it is great to see a romantic comedy with believable characters and not a couple of 20 somethings that look like they have just sashayed in off the catwalk (not that the two main leads aren’t attractive, because they both definitely are, but they are also relatable).

Lake Bell nails the English accent – if I didn’t know that she was American in real life, I would have thought she actually was English. And Simon Pegg was ideal in the role of a  man who has been through a bitter divorce and is hoping to come out of the other end of a dark tunnel. Sharon Horgan is great as Nancy’s sister, and I really liked Ken Stott and Harriet Walter as her parents.

I did think Olivia Williams was slightly mis-cast as Jack’s ex-wife, although she takes only a small role so it did not detract from my enjoyment. On the flip side, Rory Kinnear was deliciously creepy as the obsessed schoolmate of Nancy, who knows the truth about her identity.

As mentioned before, the ending was always fairy predictable but I liked the way it was done. If you like rom-coms, or British comedy in general, I’d recommend giving this one a go.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Ben Palmer

Writer: Tess Morris

Main cast: Simon Pegg, Lake Bell, Rory Kinnear, Sharon Horgan, Ken Stott, Harriet Walter

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This film, based on a Noel Coward play, stars Julie Andrews, as Lady Felicity Marshwood, who is upset to learn that her son, Lord Nigel (Edward Atterton) is engaged to be married to Hollywood film star Miranda Frayle (Jeanne Tripplehorn).  However, the situation soon becomes even more complicated when Nigel plans to bring Miranda to meet his aristocratic family, only for the family’s maid Moxie (Sophie Thompson), to announce that Miranda is in fact her sister!  Throw in Miranda’s co-star and former lover Don Lucas (William Baldwin) who is coming to England to try and stop the marriage, and Colin Firth and Stephen Fry as respectively Nigel’s cousin Peter, and the family butler Crestwell, and the stage is set for a fine comedy!

I loved this film – it did remind me somewhat of another Noel Coward adaptation – Easy Virtue, which like Relative Values, also starred Colin Firth, and which also featured the son of an upper-crust English family bringing his vivacious American girlfriend to meet his relatives, but the films play out quite differently (I loved easy Virtue too).

All the cast were excellent – in particular, Thompson, Andrews and Firth.  Stephen Fry was playing a role which could have been written for him, and although he is one of the supporting rather than main cast members, he certainly makes the most of his screen time.  Baldwin is also very funny as the often drunk Lucas, who throws a spanner in the works of Miranda’s plan to transform herself from a starlet to a Lady of the Manor.  And Moxie, who is transformed from a maid, into a wealthy family friend (so that Miranda won’t recognise her) is the centre of one of the funniest scenes, when Moxie gets drunk to try and overcome her fear at meeting her sister who she hasn’t seen for some 20 years.  Colin Firth is just adorable as Peter – it could have been a nothing role in the wrong actor’s hands, but Firth is perfect.

The plot itself is rather daft – why didn’t they just tell Miranda that her sister was working for the family, rather than try and cover up the fact (and surely Miranda would have recognised her own sister!), but I think that it’s just something that you need to go with, accept, and enjoy.  Overall, this was a very funny and hugely delightful film.  At just under one and a half hours, it never gets boring, the cast is top-notch, and I would certainly recommend it.

Year of release: 2000

Director: Eric Styles

Producers: Steve Christian, Alex Harakis, Chris Harris, Fabio Chino Quaradeghini, Francesca Barra, Maud Nadler, Alex Swan, Christopher Milburn, Paul Rattigan, Michael Walker

Writers: Noel Coward (play), Paul Rattigan, Michael Walker

Main cast: Julie Andrews, Sophie Thompson, Colin Firth, William Baldwin, Edward Atterton, Stephen Fry, Jeanne Tripplehorn

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This review refers to the 2006 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, directed by Kenneth Branagh. There are some excellent synopses of the story online, but in essence it concerns the love between Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior, who is usurped from his court by his brother Duke Frederick. Rosalind is forced to leave the court – accompanied by her friend Celia, daughter of Frederick – and live in the forest, where Orlando, who was lovestruck from the first moment that he met Rosalind, is trying to find her. As with many of Shakespeare’s plays, mistaken identity is a factor – Rosalind pretends to be a boy named ‘Ganymede’ and offers counsel to Orlando, to help him get over Rosalind. Around this central story are other sub-plots of love, romance, and the search for happiness and meaning.

In this version, the story is transported to Japan – this was a move which received mixed reviews. For my part, I thought it worked beautifully, affording some wonderful scenery, which was photographed beautifully. Bryce Dallas Howard was beyond stunning as Rosalind – she was luminous, and it was easy to see how Orlando became so entranced by her. Romola Garai played Celia, Rosalind’s best friend, and was great in the part, amply demonstrating why she is carving out a career as a respected actress. In truth, it is hard to select just one member of the cast as stand-out, as they were uniformly excellent. Brian Blessed starred as both Duke Senior and Duke Frederick, and made the two characters very distinctive, showing the harshness and cruelty of Frederick, and the kindly gentleness of Senior. Kevin Kline shines as a melancholy lord, and Alfred Molina puts in a great turn as Touchstone, a court fool (jester of sorts) who accompanies Rosalind and Celia when they leave the court. Other terrific performances include David Oyelowo as Orlando and Adrian Lester as Oliver (Orlando’s brother).

I also loved the epilogue in which the fourth wall is well and truly broken in a lovely way. Overall, this was a delightful, colourful, romantic adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s comedies, and I highly recommend it both to fans and non-fans of the Bard.

Year of release: 2006

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Producers: Kenneth Branagh, Judy Hofflund, Simon Moseley

Writers: William Shakespeare (play), Kenneth Branagh

Main cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Romola Garai, Brian Blessed, David Oyelowo, Kevin Kline, Adrian Lester, Alfred Molina

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Click here for my review of the televised live performance of the play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in 2009.

Click here for my review of the play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, in May 2013

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This review is for the 1996 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy. I had been meaning to watch this for ages, and after seeing the stage adaptation at the RSC, it seemed like the perfect time to finally catch the film.

In this version, Toby Stephens plays Duke Orsino, whose love for Olivia (Helena Bonham Carter) is unrequited. Imogen Stubbs plays Viola/Cesario, and Steven Mackintosh plays her brother Sebastian. Toby Belch is played by Mel Smith, Richard E Grant is the hapless Andrew Aguecheek, and Imelda Staunton plays Maria.

Far more is made of Viola/Cesario’s attraction to Orsino than was made in the play, and also, we do see the eventual marriage of Belch and Maria, which was not in the stage version. It is a most enjoyable film, with plenty of drama and comedy. Each cast member seemed just right for their role – stand outs for me were Toby Stephens – who is exactly the right kind of handsome and noble for this part – Helena Bonham Carter (of course), and Mel Smith, who surprised me with his acting skills. Previously I had only seen him in out and out comedies, but here he was perfect as Toby Belch. Imogen Stubbs also somehow managed to look like a gorgeous woman and still be convincing (enough for the purpose of the film) as a young man. I should also mention Ben Kingsley – an always-reliable actor – who played Feste, with an almost sinister undertone, and Nigel Hawthorne, who played the pompous Malvalio.

I don’t think it afforded me as many laughs as the stage adaptation, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this film, and would recommend it to any fans of Shakespeare, or indeed any fans of comedy in general.

Year of release: 1996

Director: Trevor Nunn

Producers: Christopher Ball, Mark Cooper, Simon Curtis, Stephen Evans, David Garrett, Bob Hayward, Ileen Maisel, David Parfitt, Greg Smith, William Tyrer, Ruth Vitale, Patrick Wachsberger, Jonathan Weisgal

Writers: William Shakespeare (play), Trevor Nunn

Main cast: Helena Bonham Carter, Toby Stephens, Mel Smith, Richard E. Grant, Imelda Staunton, Nigel Hawthorne, Imogen Stubbs, Steven Mackintosh, Ben Kingsley

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Click here for my review of the 2012 stage adaptation, at RSC, Stratford
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I saw this production of Twelfth Night, at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, at Stratford upon Avon, on 1st September 2012.

For anyone not familiar with the story, it revolves around a young woman named Viola, who survives a shipwreck and washes up in a country called Illyria.  Viola believes that her twin brother Sebastian has perished in the shipwreck.  She disguises herself as a man and calls herself Cesario, and finds employment with Orsino (in the original play, Orsino was a Duke, but here he is captain of the police force).  Orsino has fallen hard for Olivia (originally written as a countess, but here the owner of a hotel), and tasks ‘Cesario’ with conveying his love to Olivia, and hopefully getting Olivia to return his feelings.  However, Olivia falls for ‘Cesario’, not realising that he is in fact a woman, and things get complicated.  A sub-plot concerns Olivia’s drunken uncle, Toby Belch, and his capers and escapades with his friend Andrew Aguecheek.

The play started with Viola, played with charm by Emily Taaffe, literally climbing out of water, onto the wooden stage, which made for a dramatic opening scene.  As the action moves from Orsino’s home to Olivia’s hotel, the action moves along at a nice pace, balancing drama and comedy perfectly.  The play was performed in modern dress, and the set was clean, with only a few pieces of scenery, which worked very well, and ensured seamless switching of scenes.

The cast were all excellent, but I simply cannot review this play without making special mention of Jonathan Slinger, who played Malvalio – and was outstanding in his role.  He also got the biggest laugh of the entire play; I’m not going to say in which scene, as I would hate to spoil it for anyone who has yet to see it, but suffice to say that the auditorium exploded with applause and laughter, and I was crying from laughing so much.  Nicholas Day and Bruce MacKinnon were great as Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek respectively, as Cecilia Noble as Maria.

This is one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies, and it’s easy to see why.  I highly recommend this production, which is part of the shipwreck trilogy (which also includes The Comedy of Errors and The Tempest; however, it is not necessary to see all of the plays to enjoy one of them). If you want to see an excellent comedy, in a beautiful theatre, I cannot recommend this production highly enough.

(For more information about this production, or about the Royal Shakespeare Company, please click here.)

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Click here for my review of the 1996 film adaptation.

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